Bitter, sweet

Most of the things in life right now can be summed up as one of those two things: bitter or sweet. You would think that this might leave me at a constant crossroad of emotional hang ups never knowing whether to laugh or cry. And it does. I am often running between the lines of emotions tasting sweetness in the air and feeling bitterness in my heart. Ironically in cooking sometimes having both bitter and sweet can bring out the best in a dish. I guess the goal is to find that balance in life as well.

Something that I muse on many times a day is how night and day my life is from just a few months ago. Taking care of GM was mostly sad for me. Mostly it was also hard and depressing and relentless and tedious and never-ending and something that got more difficult and unrewarding.

You know people used to comment to me that taking care of GM was “good practice” for taking care of a baby. Some people were so bold as to say that maybe the Universe was giving me my motherhood experience  within the confines of being a caregiver. Not true, neither of those things.

It is indescribable how much being around Alzheimer’s can feed into the glass half empty feeling. You are around the decline of another person, someone that you care about, are invested in with your entire heart and soul. Each day another memory is stolen and evaporates, another skill is forgotten. One day you wake up to discover that your Grandmother will need you for the most basic functioning, and then you know it will only get worse.

Being around that kind of sadness and still trying to achieve motherhood was a bizarre duality. Both required me to have insane (truly) amounts of hope and faith. And not a wish on a star kind of hope, and not a sing in the choir kind of faith. If anything I became guarded with my hope- sometimes feeling like I couldn’t hope for more than one thing. If I dared swerve my hope from, “PLEASE let me become a mother” to “PLEASE let it be colder tomorrow” I felt doomed. As if I had blinked away in a staring contest with hope.

And faith? Well someday I hope to work on building a path back to something that resembles it.

The hope and faith I speak of is of the primal sort. The kind of survivalist skills that you didn’t know you had until you found yourself in dire need. If I didn’t have a wish for myself beyond the life I was living then I would have vanished.

And now I am this changed woman. Changed completely by this silly, grunting, farting, boob demanding little person. And where I once watched someone I love decline and fade I watch him grow and evolve. Every day he excels into a newer model of himself. And I find myself blossoming and blushing with a new version of optimism. Where GM’s eyes fade and get distant, W’s eyes get sharper (& bluer!) and can now find me in a room.

The miracle is that W is also bringing forward some of the GM that we had thought lost. We went to the nursing home yesterday for a Mother’s Day tea in the cafeteria. There in a sea of geriatric ladies decked out in red straw hats, was GM ready and waiting for us. She not only knew us, but when someone asked her what her Great Grandson’s name was she KNEW IT. As in said it without any prompting. Mother and I locked eyes and both mouthed, “wow”.

Mother's Day Tea

Of course it isn’t bringing back things that are lost, and new things go missing every day. But somehow this new addition to our family has helped her with the present, with the immediate. And seeing them together is, you guessed it, both bitter and sweet.

I know this weekend will be hard for many of you, and for others it may awe you. It is kind of both for me. I am incredibly sad that we do not live in a four generation house (and of course incredibly lucky that I can get in a car and still have a four generations moment). I am sort of weepy (and embarrassed) that a silly little “holiday” has meaning for me when I used to mock it with a vengance. But it is my first mother’s day and, well, there you go.

millie waves with whit


  1. Shannon says:

    let me be the first to officially say, “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!” You deserve it!

  2. sabbyjo says:

    happy mother’s day, m’dear… what a beautiful post! i sent you a very long email, and don’t expect an answer anytime soon… but i quickly wanted to add something about breastfeeding, as long as i’m here… you mentioned that one of your boobs produces more milk than the other and you hoped they’d even out. just from my experience, mine never did. i always suspected my right one produced less but since i didn’t pump, i wasn’t sure. well now that i am pumping, i usually get a quarter of the day’s supply from my right and 3/4 from my left! and i always used them equally. it’s kind of good to know if you are a use-the-boob-to-soothe kind of gal, like i am. sometimes i use my right boob to calm my boy, knowing that he doesn’t need any extra calories. ok! over and out :)

  3. What a beautiful post, Cali, from start to finish. Happy Mother’s Day, to you, to your mom, and to GM.

  4. Oh, sweetie, I love that picture, especially the little grin on WW’s face as he curls up on your grandmother’s chest. Happy Mother’s Day to all three of you mothers, and enjoy that boy!

  5. Kathleen says:

    I found your blog when I was Googling FETs (I just had one; am 5w today but totally afraid I have an ectopic due to twinges on my left side in the ovarian area and lower down). At any rate, that’s not why I am commenting; instead, I noticed you’re an SMC and wondered if you belong to Single Mothers by Choice and are on any of the group’s Yahoo! groups.

  6. Happy Mother’s Day, Cali. You always write beautifully, but today the way you’ve captured your thoughts is truly exquisite. WW is so incredibly fortunate to have you as a mom…

  7. Happy Mother’s Day and have fun watching growth :)

  8. Not much to say other than…Happy Mother’s Day…and I totally get it. Bitter and sweet. Damnit, and halleluia.

    Sorry, gotta get back to Boo. I spent my first Mother’s Day Eve getting both shat and puked upon.

  9. Beautifully written. Have a wonderful Mother’s day, but most importantly have a wonderful EVERY day!

  10. Beautifully said. I love that GM knows her WW.
    Happy Mother’s Day to WW’s Mommy :)

  11. Happy Mother’s Day, Calli…and Mother and GM….

  12. Michell says:

    Happy Mother’s Day.
    What a great post and so very true. Life is full of so many bitter sweet moments. I suppose the bitter help us appreciate the sweet so much more. Hugs to you. Oh and that’s a great pic of GM and W.

  13. Happy First Mother’s Day! I hope you and yours enjoy it. You guys deserve a nice day. Look forward to the time when you get macaroni pictures and home made cards!

  14. Shannon says:

    That was lovely. Happy Mothers Day!

  15. Dr. Molly says:

    Happy Mother’s Day, my friend! Love to you and that little boy wonder. xoxo.

  16. Kathleen says:

    Enjoy EVERY minute of ALL of it! Happy day indeed!

  17. Happy Mother’s Day, Cali. It’s a hard holiday for so many of us.


  18. Happy Mothers Day! When you blog you open yourself up to the world and you get the best and worst of random strangers’ insights into your life. I envy you for being able to do it so well. I get angry too easily and stupid comments like the one about GM being the baby you were meant to have would have me in a snarling rage. I’m glad you’re more even-tempered.
    Wail til WW brings you a Mothers Day gift that he made himself out of dried macaroni glued to a paper plate or something similar. It will be the best thing anyone ever gave you!

  19. Happy Mother’s Day, Cali!!!

  20. Happy, happy Mothers’ Day to you all, Cali.

  21. I love seeing GM and WW together.

    I’m having the same bittersweet day today. Blech.

  22. Happy Mother’s Day!

  23. Happy mother’s day, friend.

  24. Happy 1st Mothers Day to you!! and Happy Mothers day to your mom and GM also!!

  25. I love the photo with ww and gm. He’ll have all that to look back on when he’s older and hou can tell him the story of how she knew his name, despite it all..


  26. I was thinking of you today, and wanted you to know that I’m wishing you a VERY happy mother’s day!!!

  27. happy 1st mother’s day!!

  28. That photo of GM holding W is divine. Happy Mothers Day Cal to you and to all the mothers of your

  29. Happy Mother’s Day Cali! I hope you had an absolutely wonderful day!

  30. Hope you had the BEST day 😉


  31. Beautiful post– and the polarity of the situation is so true… Hope you had a wonderful mothers day!

  32. Man-Annie Oakley says:

    I hope that your Mother’s Day was all that you had always hoped it would be. And the polarity is totally understandable – I mean, oh all you ‘ve been through. Please know how loved you and your mom and GM and of course WW are. I am just thrilled beyond words that you got to experience Mother’s Day this year, and for every year from now on! Love you bunches!
    PS- That grin on WW’s face just kills me…. it just says I am so loved and feel every ounce of it.

  33. Happy first Mother’s Day to you!

  34. Hope you had a lovely 1st Mothers day, my dear. You SO deserve to celebrate it…and Im so glad you could get the generations together for the occasion.

  35. This is just so gorgeous, Cali. I’m so glad you get to celebrate Mother’s Day with the fullness in your heart that is W and the ways he is changing and growing every day. Your description of him finding you in a room just brings tears to my eyes. And glad also that you get to have a 4 generation moment as lovely as the one in that photo – W just looks so peaceful there, snuggled up to his great-grandma.

  36. That is a wonderful and amazing miracle. I’m so so so glad GM and your family get to experience it. xo

  37. Alexicographer says:

    Yes. As the daughter of a dad with dementia and the mom of an IVF son, this is it exactly. Though now that my son is 2, there are some somewhat eerie similarities between having a conversation with him and having one with my dad; both remind me of bad first dates. But beyond that, they are different worlds … one a life drawing to a close and the other, hopefully, one that is just in its early beginnings.

  38. Jennette says:

    What a beautiful post Cali (I’m a bit behind on post reading due to my son’s recent hospitalization with meningitis – he is okay – and my oral surgery), it really moved me. You have a way with putting feelings into words.

    A belated Happy Mother’s Day to you. I am so happy you blessed with being a mother FINALLY!


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